Minister John bows out after nearly two decades at Hitchin landmark

John Matthews

John Matthews - Credit: Archant

A minister who has served his congregation in Hitchin for nearly two decades is retiring next month.

The Rev John Matthews has served as the minister of Tilehouse Street Baptist Church for 19 years and has been a minister for twice that time.

John, 65, who lives in Pirton, told the Comet: “I was born in Brighton, trained in Bristol, and have been a minster for 38 years in total including the last 19 at Tilehouse Street.

“Hitchin has a lot going for it. It is a special place – it’s a nice town with independent shops and a real sense of community here.

“And as a church we aim to be a friendly and welcoming fellowship. We have put on countless events for all ages of the Hitchin community here.

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“I would say my biggest achievement in the time I have been here was to help set up PHASE – a key support service for the young which includes mentoring, emotional support, self-harm support, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

“I am also proud of the way we welcomed same-sex partnerships.

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“A good number of our parishioners supported it. I have always tried to provide support and compassion to all.

“God is love. I believe in God. He loves us faithfully even when people may not love him back as faithfully.

“Our services have a sense of order and include hymns and songs, bible readings, prayers a sermon and sometimes communion.

“Singing is accompanied by our magnificent historic organ, piano or a small music group.

“We have about 60 members with an average morning congregation of around 50.

“We have a long history with records dating from 1669 and a chair in the pulpit given by John Bunyan – but we are a modern-day fellowship and we seek to worship and serve God in many ways relevant to today.

“As my wife Gill and I look back on our time here, we’re very grateful for the friends we’ve made inside and outside the church, and will take happy memories into retirement.”

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